To stay up to date with SEO, know current trends
Search Engine Optimization is one of the most rapidly changing fields around. With advances in artificial intelligence and algorithmic technology, large search engine companies such as Google and Bing are able to fine-tune the results to the specific user better than ever before. For many users, this is a positive change.
But for many businesses looking to claim a spot on the first page of search results, this can be problematic. Many tried-and-true strategies don’t have the effect they once did, and some that used to have an upwards ranking correlation now produce penalties instead. In order to overcome these obstacles, it’s important to know which factors major search engines are focusing on in 2018.
For Google, local searches are king
Google’s goal has always been to provide its users with the most relevant content to each specific user. Tracking past searches and clicked-on choices from signed-in users is one way that they do this, but another way is that Google is now pushing local searches more than ever before and highlighting options closest to the searcher.
Does proximity matter?
It makes sense that proximity to the user is important for searches, particularly when someone is searching for a business. For calling a tow truck, for instance, it’s a lot less stress and likely cheaper to use a closer company. This is why it’s particularly important to keep NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) up-to-date and consistent across the internet. By doing this, Google associates the particular location with the business which improves the chances of it showing up in searches; but only if the keywords are used in the content.
Don’t neglect content
A formerly effective SEO strategy was to use keywords and LSI terms for the target phrase as frequently as possible, an idea known as keyword stuffing. The thought process behind this is that many users wouldn’t bother reading the content, but would simply see a local business in the first spot of the rankings and call the number immediately.
How does content help with rankings?
In 2018, relevant content is a fundamental element that Google searches for. Ideally, relevant content would involve keyword research and a content marketing plan, but this isn’t an option for everyone. However it’s implemented, content should always have these traits:
- Informative and useful to the user.
- Accurate and straightforward and not deceitful.
- Unique and of high-quality instead of the same page with slight synonyms.
- Engaging and valuable so that the user will interact with it.
- Understandable and easy to read on both desktop and mobile devices.
Be sure to optimize the site for mobile users
Each year, more and more people abandon desktop searches in favor of the convenience of searching for a mobile device. In 2017, mobile searches were approximately 60% of search queries, and that percentage is expected to continue to rise. To rank on mobile devices, it’s important that the site functions on a mobile device. There are many factors that go into mobile optimization, but most come down to page load speed and element displays—making sure text and media are displayed properly.
Always prioritize white hat tactics
White hat tactics prioritize human users over machines. This means that web pages are written and designed with people in mind instead of trying to take a shortcut to trick search engine algorithms. Along with having a poor user experience, trying exploits is always a gamble, because the next update could catch and significantly penalize sites that employ them. But by focusing on staying relevant to the user with a focus on local and proximity search, useful and quality content, and optimizing the site for mobile devices are white hat tactics that will be safe in 2018 and beyond.